*The San Bernardino, California terrorist attack may have been the last straw towards our need for a new approach on how Americans should behave if we are faced with the threat of an active shooter in the workplace. As you recall, 14 people lost their lives and 21 others were injured when Syed Rizwan Farook and Tasfeen Malik, a married couple, opened fire at a social services agency while a holiday party took place in early December.
President Barack Obama had already stated, right after the Paris attacks, that Americans would not be forced into being fearful and his words seem to have struck a chord with employers who are beginning to take responsibility for training their employees on how to protect themselves in the event of a terrorist attack.
Instead of the previous years approach that directed people to find a safe place to hide – tactics moving forward, and being embraced by companies ranging from Silicon Valley’s tech firms to Northern Virginia’s credit unions, offer a more empowering stance and direct employees to work as teams in an attempt to disrupt and confuse the shooters, thereby opening up a split second opportunity to take them down.
Neighbor Works America employee, Temony McNeil, found himself pinned down by colleagues in his Washington office – where a role-play had him as an “active shooter on the premises.” As McNeil soon discovered, even his imposing stature of 6 feet and 240 pounds was no match for the colleagues who got control of his neck and took him down. The 39-year-old senior accounting manager was unable to move and confirmed, “They had me down.”
The paradigm shift in response — from passive to active — has been endorsed and promoted by the Department of Homeland Security. Last month, it recommended that federal workplaces adopt the training program “Run, Hide, Fight,” which it helped develop.D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier used the same phrase on a recent episode of “60 Minutes.”
“Your options are run, hide or fight,” Lanier said last month. “I always say, if you can get out, getting out’s your first option, your best option. If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”
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After what went down in San Bernardino, president Obama visited the families who suffered loss and told the media afterwards that despite their circumstances, the families were very inspiring.
“Despite the pain and the heartache that they’re feeling, they could not have been more inspiring. It was a reminder of what’s good in this country.”
The president said that the 14 victims of the attack came from every background and faith. “They’re all representative of the strength and the unity and the love in this community.”
Mr. Obama has made it his mission to visit with the families of many victims of over the past year; as well as top officials in countries around the world. This action has become known as his own personal reaction of compassion.